Service on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seeyouonsunday/videos/791586439468759
We are spending a season in the Gospel of Mark. I’ve really enjoyed digging in and seeing the story unfold. Mark is the shortest and the earliest of the Gospels, they think. Luke and Matthew ease into things. The start of Luke’s Gospel is what we read every Christmas, we get pregnant women, shepherds and angels, a baby, and his mother treasuring things in her heart. Matthew’s first chapters have more angels, magi, immigrants fleeing, and the killing of babies… a little less easing there.
But Mark. Mark just gets started. Who has time to worry about tiny baby Jesus when there is this story to tell?
Jesus goes from being a no-one to someone people are searching for, from being alone in the desert to having to sneak out when everyone is sleeping to get any peace and quiet.
Here at the start of Jesus’ ministry, he is countering the systems, challenging the authority, and opposing the assumptions of the status quo.
In these stories, two things are happening: lives are made new and the world is changed.
The man was liberated from a negative and adversarial spirit, and the authority of the powerful was challenged. Peter’s mother-in-law was risen up from an immobilizing illness and brought into leadership of this proto-house church Mark is going to spend the whole gospel presenting. The man with the skin disease, whose illness kept him outside of community for fear of the plague, was named clean and the entire system of who was in and who was out, who was clean and who was unclean was turned on its head.
We talk about, healing stories can be hard. Not everyone who sits at the bedside of their beloved mother-in-law and prays for healing will see her stand again. Kate Bower named her second memoir-like book, “No Cure for Being Human.” We are finite creatures. We will make mistakes, disappoint, fail, learn to try again. We will hurt each other and ourselves, it’s why we come in confession every week. We have limitations on our movement and our thoughts and our knowledge–and that changes over time. A new baby bends in half and put their feet in their mouth! and time, illness, pain can make taking one’s shoes off.
I think we want… I want… the big healing stories. I want to be part of something that people write books about. I don’t need to be in charge, but maybe in the audience when the revivalist healer comes through, knocks people on the forehead, and heals them; and have it not be a grift.
We want the “could only be God miracle” but there are also treatments that have given years that weren’t counted on. And medications that have given back movement or clarity or relief from the darkness. There are practitioners who loosen muscles and knit tissues and walk with us through experiences like grief that has no quick fix and must be traveled and felt and processed.
But there is no cure for being human. No pill that will keep us from messing up. No flawless technique that will keep us from misplacing our keys sometimes. No treatment that will make infinite the number of our days. No interaction with Jesus gave these folks immortality.
It did give them a chance to start new in the kingdom living that Jesus was presenting. A kingdom where authority wasn’t centered in the powerful but in the people. A kingdom where women lead and serve the movement. A kingdom where no one is named unclean or pushed to the outside but everyone, everyone, has a place. The world was different because they lived in it differently, they lived as ones who have been given new life, the chance to begin again in the light of the kingdom coming and present.
New Years is hard, it’s full of expectations of the best night ever! if you’re one who goes out to celebrate and it’s full of expectations that “this year I’m going to…” We know. Our resolutions are thrown in the piles we promised ourselves we’d clean up this year by February, only to be pulled out and put on the list the next year. No judgment, me too.
God makes all things new, God makes things new every morning, God breathes life into tired bones, and Jesus calls life out of darkness. January 7th is a day of new beginnings. And January 8th. And February 29th. And every day in June. All the days in between. Every day is a day to step into newness, to breathe deep what God is doing and to live in the kingdom that has come and the kingdom that is coming. A kingdom of community and welcome, with space to heal and struggle and feel all the grief and joy, sorrow and celebration, pain and contentment.
And when we commit to kingdom living, healing happens. Forgiveness is offered. Relationships are mended. Burdens of care are lifted. Loneliness is scattered. Darkness is shattered. The vulnerable are safe. The outcast are vital members of the family. All are family. All are in care for each other. There is healing living in the kingdom and the world changes.
So what is it going to be? If this is the day of new beginnings, who are you going to be? how are you going to live? what kingdom will you follow?
It is part of some traditions, to renew individual and communal relationships with God at the dawn of the new year. I invite you to consider the words, and, if you’re willing, join me in prayer.
I am not my own self-made, self-reliant human being.
In truth, O God, I am Yours.
Make me into what You will.
Make me a neighbor with those whom You will.
Guide me on the easy path for You.
Guide me on the rocky road for You.
Whether I am to step up or step aside for You, act or wait for You;
Whether I am to be lifted high for You or brought low for You;
Whether I become full or empty, with all things or with nothing;
I give all that I have and all that I am for You.
So be it.
And may I always remember that you,
O God, and I belong to each other. Amen.
God our healer, whose mercy is like a refining fire: By the loving-kindness of Jesus, heal us and those for whom we pray; that being renewed by you, we may witness your wholeness to our broken world; through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Spirit.